Capitol Correspondence - 02.09.21

31 Senators Emphasize to Biden Administration the Importance of HCBS Program

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Led by Senators Bob Casey (D-PA), Corey Booker (D-NJ), Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and Sherrod Brown (D-OH), 31 Senators wrote a letter to President Biden praising his plan to invest in the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) program and urging his immediate action. As written in the letter:

“During your campaign, you laid out a plan to invest $450 billion in Medicaid home and community-based services (HCBS). Your proposal recognizes the needs of children with complex medical needs, youth and adults with disabilities as well as aging adults.

As a critical component of your Build Back Better Plan, this investment in HCBS would create a robust caregiving system, while also driving sustainable economic growth and meeting the health care needs of our Nation’s rapidly aging population. It would help propel the country’s economy out of the pandemic-induced recession by increasing employment and enabling those receiving services to participate in their communities. It would transform low-paid caregiving jobs into family-sustaining occupations with higher wages, benefits and the opportunity to join a union. These outcomes would also advance racial and gender equity given that the caregiving profession is disproportionately supported by Black women, other women of color and immigrants. Finally, such an investment would support people with disabilities, older adults and family caregivers with the supports they need to live the lives they wish to lead.

The challenges facing our Nation’s long-term care system predated this pandemic, which has only exacerbated its many flaws. An essential HCBS workforce supports millions of older adults and people with disabilities to live in their own homes and communities, but many of these workers struggle to support themselves and their families financially. Even worse, too many of these workers have been without basic personal protective equipment, timely COVID19 testing and enforceable safety standards as the pandemic ravages our Nation. Your caregiving economic plan will provide direct support workers with the compensation and essential benefits they deserve. By strengthening the workforce, your plan also will provide the reliable supports needed by people with disabilities and older adults who wish to remain in their homes and communities.

At the outset of your Administration, we have the opportunity to rescue a teetering caregiving system and recreate it to transform the lives of millions of workers and to serve as an economic workhorse. For many years, both political parties have failed to value and affirm the caregiving workforce that provides essential care for older Americans, children and people with disabilities. We must seize this opportunity, as we have an imperative to respond to the devastation this pandemic has wrought, with a forward-looking plan to reshape our long-term care system.”